Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Maverick in the Queen City - Pt. III


JK and Broderick Crawford try to
decipher the plot
of "Shadow of A Man"
As promised, here's a humorous look at Jack Kelly's Kraft Mystery Theater episode "Shadow of a Man", penned by Cincinnati Post TV columnist Mary Wood and published on 6/20/1963:

"Kraft Mystery Theater returned to its old summer hour on NBC-TV last night, and, as far as I'm concerned, it certainly lived up to its title. Why poor Ed Begley was left up a creek without a paddle for insuring bridges and viaducts is still a mystery to me.

Is there an insurance man in the house who can explain it?

Until they sprang the bridges and viaducts on me, I had the plot fairly well in hand. It went like this: Handsome Jack Kelly, a former Brother Maverick, rode into a small southern town and started asking questions about the town's leading and most popular citizen, Ed Begley, a successful insurance man. In order to meet lovable old Ed, Jack cozied up to his beautiful daughter, Beverley Owen.

Tain't long before Handsome Jack, who is really an insurance investigator, fell into his own cozy trap. He was smitten with Beverley's charms, which were profuse.

So far, I'm with them--wholeheartedly.

Now comes Brod Crawford, a hard-bitten insurance investigator who is convinced that lovable Ed has absconded with $75,000 of the insurance company's dough. Insurance companies, I'm led to believe, take a dim view of such goings on, no matter how lovable the culprit nor how fine his motives.

Well, it finally was revealed that poor Ed was being blackmailed by his accountant. That I could understand because the accountant had a very shifty eye.

But they completely lost me right after the third commercial, the one for the sandwich loaf made with layers of egg salad, watercress, ham salad and iced with cream cheese. Then you slice it down. Yummy!

Oh yes. They lost me when that hard-nosed Brod found that poor Ed had been insuring bridges and viaducts because he couldn't get insurance on himself. Then poor Ed shot the blackmailing accountant on a lonely road and wounded himself. He lived long enough to run his car over one of those well-insured viaducts and that was that.

Beverley bid a sad farewell to Handsome Jack at the funeral and he rode off with hard-nosed Brod. So much for that promising romance.

But the bridges and the viaducts were never explained to my satisfaction, and I'm beginning not to care anymore."

If you care to watch "Shadow of a Man", here's a link to it.

Please stay tuned for more about Jack Kelly in TDS. :)

Sunday, September 2, 2018

A Maverick in the Queen City - Pt.II :)


Jack Kelly revisited Cincinnati in June 1963 while gearing up to star in the musical Can-Can in Dayton, OH.

JK was a guest on the legendary Ruth Lyons' talk show on June 26, 1963. He also gave an insightful interview to the television editor of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Although the onscreen Maverick may not have been the best poker player offscreen, Maverick was still supporting JK with hefty percentage/rerun residual payments. He also had the "side hustle" down pat long before it became a buzz phrase:

 "Maverick's Poor At Cards
by James Devane

As TV's Bart Maverick, Jack Kelly earned his living at the card table. In real life he says he may be the world's 'lousiest' player.

'When we have friends at our house for a poker party, my wife has to bail me out,' he admits. 'She's the card shark of the family.'

At the moment, Mr. Kelly is in Dayton preparing for a singing role in Can Can, which begins a week's run in the city's air-conditioned Memorial Hall on July 2. His pretty wife, a former actress known as May Wynn who has reverted to her real name of Donna Lee, is with him.

'Since we have no children, we do everything together,' Jack says. 'We fly, fish, golf and travel. The only thing we don't do together is sleep late. When we married seven years ago I got my wife to agree to give up her career. So now she stays in bed and I go to work.'

As you probably know, Mr. Kelly's Maverick came to an end more than a year ago, but it's still contributing to his support. With 176 films [B27--? Aren't there only 124 Maverick episodes?] rerunning around the country Jack made approximately $20,000 from the series last year due to a percentage deal plus residual rights.

With this income added to money from summer stock appearances and the used-airplane business he and his wife manage in California, he's been able to wait for the right new TV vehicle to come along.

 He thinks he's found it in 'Double Indemnity', a proposed series about insurance investigators. You may have seen the pilot [B27--Titled 'Shadow of a Man'], which ran experimentally on last week's Kraft Mystery Theater. Broderick Crawford co-starred with Jack in the film.

Kelly admits the pilot's story was poor. 'But the story isn't the important thing in selling a series,' he explains. 'A sponsor wants to know if a series has characters the public will like. They keep viewers dialing in. Sponsors seem to believe the characters Brod and I played have what it takes. I feel pretty confident we'll be on regularly during the 1964-'65 season.'

Jack says making Maverick was a lot of fun. 'We got our work done so we'd have time for gags,' he recalls. 'We had hose fights and Jim Garner, who played Bret, liked to loosen my saddle when I wasn't looking. I'd climb on and down the saddle and me would come in a heap.'

Mr. Kelly would eventually like to go into the hotel and restaurant business. As for acting, he feels he's already a great success from one point of view. 'When I started in movies I was known as Nancy Kelly's brother', he relates, 'but now as my talented sister jokes, she often has to introduce herself as my relation.'"

Of course, Double Indemnity never became a series, although years later JK played a baddie in Banacek, which starred George Peppard as, yep, an insurance investigator.

Please stay tuned for a comical column about "Shadow of a Man" in TDS! :)